Book Review and Blog Tour: The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge

Cadenza is the City of Words, a city run by poets, its skyline dominated by the steepled towers of its libraries, its heart beating to the stamp and thrum of the printing presses in the Printing Quarter.

Carlo Mazzoni, a young wordsmith arrives at the city gates intent on making his name as the bells ring out with the news of the death of the city’s poet-leader. Instead, he finds himself embroiled with the intrigues of a city in turmoil, the looming prospect of war with their rival Venice ever-present. A war that threatens not only to destroy Cadenza but remove it from history altogether…

This book is on the chunky side but that allows the story to spool out in front of the reader at its own pace which suits the rather lyrical style its written in. Not so much a fantasy but more of an alternate timeline story this is a woven narrative that introduces us to characters who at first seem rather disparate from each other but gradually weave together to make the whole tapestry. The writing was lyrical and almost felt like reading a long epic poem with the way the parts were broken into stanzas rather than chapters which matched the feel of the book well.

Carlo was a hugely frustrating character and difficult to get to like when he was so whiny about his great poem and introspective to the point he didn’t care how his actions impacted on those around him, only regret for the way they had rebounded on himself.

Ercole on the other hand was instantly gripping and I wanted to spend more time in his company, learning about him and the life he had led.

Hypatia was also hard to get much of a handle on sometimes, her actions were not always consistent and she too spent a lot of time wallowing.

This was an interesting if at times very frustrating read, very few characters were what I would call likeable and I sometimes found I had read a page without taking it all in, however it kept me reading and although I’m not sure I could fully explain the plot to someone it was an interesting read. I do feel that a different blurb and marketing may help it find its audience better though, it was not what I expected going in.

With thanks to Rebellion Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for honest review and The Write Reads for inviting me on the blog tour.

Carnival of Ash is available now.